Driving uptime through motor maintenance

Driving uptime through motor maintenance

Keeping a factory's power supply going strong requires an in-depth motor maintenance management system, which involves taking several steps to ensure these processes are optimized to keep motors going, Plant Services reports. 

According to the news source, Charles Dix, engineer and co-owner of Carolina Hydro Technologies, said focusing on the aspects of motors that typically fly under the radar is one of the best ways to stay on top of motor maintenance. 

"There are other obvious items to consider such as plugged air vents or excessive heat, lubrication, or power quality, but plants normally do not have programs in place to regularly check vibration and alignment," he said. "These items are done on the initial installation, but not checked on a regular basis."

Kirk Blankenship, senior asset care engineer at MillerCoors, added that studies show the most common cause for industrial motor failure is a lack of maintenance in the asset's bearing. This, he said, can be traced back to about 50 percent of all motor failures reported. Other experts say this number could be as high as 80 percent, showing the importance of focusing on motor bearings. 

According to Plant Services, many maintenance engineers will almost always assume improper lubrication was the cause for the bearing failure, however, it may take a little more digging to find the root of the problem. 

"The first, most overlooked and underrated step in maintaining motor bearings is correcting for soft foot and proper alignment," Blankenship said. "[Coincidentally], alignment is also one of the primary steps of optimizing motor performance. This can be easily verified by recording the Ampere draw before and after a good laser alignment."

The media outlet notes that when it does come time for lubrication, many maintenance professionals subscribe to one of two beliefs: either add lube until any excess grease comes out or give the bearings a set amount of lube. However, just like with any condition based maintenance project, greasing bearings with the right amount of lubrication will allow for the best machine performance as well as lower costs and downtime. 

Blankenship added that the problems arise when no one at a firm is tasked with learning exactly how much grease a particular bearing needs. 

"Motors add complexity to the situation, as there are numerous types, sizes, and orientations that make it nearly impossible to have a single best practice on how to properly lubricate a motor," he said. 

According to Maintenance Technology, it has become increasingly difficult for managers to identify, diagnose and repair motor problems as the technology continues to evolve. This, however, comes as more managers express a need to use preventative maintenance to avoid unexpected catastrophic events. Many plant managers now use software to keep track of their assets, performing maintenance only when necessary to reduce costly downtime.

To learn more about eRPortal, visit www.erportalsoftware.com.

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